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Intel's 50Gbps Laser Light Beams Are the Future

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 7 comments

Sharks with 50Gbps laser beams?

Someday in the future, we may look back on the technology we're using today and laugh that we were using electrons to carry data in and around computers.

Intel Corporation this week announced a research prototype representing the world's first silicon-based optical data connection with integrated lasers. The link can move data over longer distances and many times faster than today's copper technology; up to 50 gigabits of data per second. This is the equivalent of an entire HD movie being transmitted each second.

The transmitter chip is composed of four such lasers, whose light beams each travel into an optical modulator that encodes data onto them at 12.5Gbps. The four beams are then combined and output to a single optical fiber for a total data rate of 50Gbps. At the other end of the link, the receiver chip separates the four optical beams and directs them into photo detectors, which convert data back into electrical signals.

While telecommunications and other applications already use lasers to transmit information, current technologies are too expensive and bulky to be used for PC applications.

Today computer components are connected to each other using copper cables or traces on circuit boards. Due to the signal degradation that comes with using metals such as copper to transmit data, these cables have a limited maximum length. This limits the design of computers, forcing processors, memory and other components to be placed just inches from each other.

The technology, called silicon photonics, will have far reaching applications. For example, at these data rates one transmit far higher-definition video in a teleconference than what our 1080p sets can display. Silicon photonics will also enable datacenters to be more flexible in location and setup.

"This achievement of the world's first 50Gbps silicon photonics link with integrated hybrid silicon lasers marks a significant achievement in our long term vision of ‘siliconizing' photonics and bringing high bandwidth, low cost optical communications in and around future PCs, servers, and consumer devices" Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer and director of Intel Labs, said.

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  • 2 Hide
    nesters , 29 July 2010 08:01
    Might take "a while" for price to reach everyday user when it comes to market anyways.
  • 0 Hide
    Silmarunya , 29 July 2010 16:37
    nestersMight take "a while" for price to reach everyday user when it comes to market anyways.


    Yup, and it will also take a while before the sending and receiving piece of electronics will be fast enough to max out the connection (especially in consumer electronics).

    Nice to see what's in development, but we won't reap the fruits of those engineer's labor for a long time I'm afraid.
  • 0 Hide
    aje21 , 29 July 2010 20:51
    Quote:
    up to 50 gigabits of data per second. This is the equivalent of an entire HD movie being transmitted each second

    Hmm, sounds closer to standard definition to me...
  • Display all 7 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Dandalf , 29 July 2010 20:57
    Dangerous for AMD, who are making advancements in system-on-a-chip configurations with FUSION. With this technology Intel could have such a fast bus on the mainboard between separate components that on-die speed advantages are minimized!
  • 0 Hide
    princeofdreams , 30 July 2010 00:08
    Do people who work at Toms have any tech background? I am seriously doubting it recently, not just due to the lack of Tech related articles but the consistent inaccuracies being reported.

    For example the transmission rate is being reported at 50Gbps NOT 50GBps i.e is at 50 gigaBITS not 50 gigaBYTES there are 8bits to each byte there for the transmission rate is 6.25 Gigabytes per second maybe just enough to transmit a standard definition DVD quality movie certainly not enough to transmit a HD every second.

    Please Toms get back on track, you are seriously starting to loose all creditability
  • 0 Hide
    smalltime0 , 30 July 2010 08:45
    DandalfDangerous for AMD, who are making advancements in system-on-a-chip configurations with FUSION. With this technology Intel could have such a fast bus on the mainboard between separate components that on-die speed advantages are minimized!

    not really, nothing will be able to send data that fast for quite a while.
  • 0 Hide
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